‘I was dying’: Local woman spent month in coma after contracting COVID-19

CHARLOTTE — A local woman spent a month in a coma after contracting COVID-19, and she was in a hospital for three more months recovering.

Vera Blakeney, 69, said doctors told her the fact that she pulled through was a miracle.

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“I could not lift my arms,” the Piedmont Airlines gate agent said. “I could not get out of bed. I could not walk, and I could barely talk. It was a very scary situation.”

Now, Blakeney is back home.

“I’m doing really well,” she said. “My doctors all call me a miracle.”

Blakeney said she was in good health, walked five miles a day and was not on medication.

"It really sent chills through my body to know that I was that close to death," Blakeney said.

She said she started experiencing allergy-like symptoms in March, which soon led to serious shortness of breath.

Her family rushed her to the hospital where she was put into a medically induced coma and hooked up to a ventilator for nearly a month before doctors woke her up.

“When they told me the date, I was confused,” Blakeney said. “I was rattled. It was just overwhelming to know that many days had passed, and I had no memory of that.”

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She woke up and realized COVID-19 had ravaged her body attacking her lungs, blood and kidneys.

She underwent three blood transfusions.

“Normal kidney function is 1 or less. In intensive care mine was 8.3. I was dying,” Blakeney said. “They told my children that I was dying. They had to wait until (my) kidneys were normal and blood was normal before I could go home.”

She had to grow stronger and learn to walk and talk again, and now she has a message.

“I know that God is real because I’m sitting here today, and I know coronavirus is real because I had to call on God to get me through it,” she said. “People who think it’s a hoax, who think

they won’t get it. It’s the flu. I’m here to tell you it absolutely is not. You need to protect yourself.”

The union that represents ramp and customer service agents at the airport started pushing for more worker protections against COVID-19.